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Ecole Mount Prevost wins grand prize

Ecole Mount Prevost PAC Chair Mona Kaiser serves cake to students during the school
Ecole Mount Prevost PAC Chair Mona Kaiser serves cake to students during the school's celebration Tuesday.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Folks at Ecole Mt. Prevost are on cloud nine.

And it's no wonder. The school just received news this morning they were chosen as the grand prize winners of a $125,000 grant for a community playground.

And they celebrated in style during the school's lunch break complete with cake, loud tunes, and a flashmob dance to Jordin Sparks single One Step at a Time or rather One Vote at a Time.

"We're over the moon," said Ecole Mt. Prevost Elementary PAC Chair Mona Kaiser between serving students celebration cake. "We really want to stress this was a community effort."

"We've been really impressed with people's verbal and financial support," added Prevost principal Pedro Mengual.

Mengual and Kaiser, among many parents, teachers and school staff danced with students during the celebration dance skit.

A big thank you was also screamed out and recorded for folks over at the Aviva Community Fund.

Project Mount Prevost's Multi-generational Community Playground made it into the top 10 of the Aviva Community competition in December.

From there, 30 top projects — 10 from Prevost school's large division — went in front of a panel of judges to determine which ones received full funding.

The judging panel evaluated the finalist ideas based 30% on longevity and sustainability, 25% on impact, 15% on likelihood of success, 15% on how many votes the idea received in the semifinals, 10% on submission quality and 5% on originality.

The winning ideas, which also included Lake Cowichan's Palsson Elementary receiving $5,000, were announced on CTV in Ontario at about 3 a.m. this morning.

Prevost's project concept features play structures for kids, an outdoor classroom for teachers, an outdoor fitness circuit for seniors, a community garden for neighbours, a natural play space for toddlers, and a picnic space for everyone.

Kaiser noted connections in the community as a huge boost to their success in the voting portion of the campaign.

"Really, it was talking to people, and just personal connections," she said, adding as an example she did a presentation to the Manzanitas hiking club and they were super gung ho supporting the idea.

What helped their concept in front of the judges was the group's track record for improvement projects, particularly work done prior at Duncan Elementary before the school district reconfiguration and students moved to Prevost.

"It was a huge momentum built up," said Kaiser.

"It showed we're not just talk," added Mengual.

Many parents gave Kaiser big hugs and offered thank you's during the celebration.

"She drew up the plans, shared them with our dedicated PAC, and the rest of us followed behind them shouting about it to everyone we knew," wrote parent Maeve Maguire of Kaiser on her blog Life in the Cowichan Valley the evening before the big announcement.

"I don’t think we would have even hoped for the grand prize if Mona hadn’t believed we could win it, which she did, as she said in her daily emails to some 400-plus voters.

"What’s funny is the amount we win has become less important. Instead, this was about how much effort our parents and community put into helping us win the voting rounds... this whole process has proven that our PAC and community are as strong as they ever were at the old school."

Mengual reminded students the new addition will arrive gradually.

"It's a great starting point," he said of the grand prize cash. "But we have some more fundraising ahead of us. It will come one step at a time."

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